The Chilly Dog - 2015 Highlights

It's hard to believe that The Chilly Dog turned four this month. Of course, I'm not a millionaire yet, but I am finally feeling pretty comfortable navigating the world of blogging, social media and selling patterns and handmade items online.

Now that I finally have some experience on my side, this was the year to take a hard look at what's working and what's not so I can make better use of my time and money.

Let's start with the shop - When I opened my shop on Etsy in 2011, I was so excited to find a venue where I fit in. Etsy was inexpensive, easy to use and filled with other hobbyists building small businesses. Then Etsy went public, changed their policies, and welcomed manufacturers and wholesalers with open wallets arms.

While there are still many wonderful artists and vintage enthusiasts selling on Etsy, I felt the changes made my shop virtually invisible, so I decided to try a different marketplace, Storenvy. Shortly after opening my shop, Storenvy raised their commission rate from $0 to a whopping 15%. Realistically, I can't raise my prices 15% to cover that cost, so in July I took the plunge and left both marketplaces to sell patterns and physical items in my own, virtual shop, shop.thechillydog.com.

Happily, the two other places where I sell my knit and crochet patterns, Ravelry and Craftsy, have kept their commission rates remarkably low and sales there have been fairly steady all year.

On the blog I continue to share my crafting adventures and I have lots of wonderful readers. By the numbers, The Chilly Dog averages about 800 pageviews a day, topping out at over 300,000 pageviews in the last 12 months. This is my 134th post of the year with 62 of those being free tutorials and patterns and tips for bloggers and small businesses.

My followers on social media are encouraging and supportive. Earlier this year I created a plan for posting quality content on each of my social media platforms. The plan is working because I am up to 670 followers on Facebook, 480 followers on Twitter, 388 followers on Google+ and 109 followers on Instagram. Those numbers may seem low compared to similarly sized blogs, but I am very proud of the fact that my followers are very engaged and regularly like, comment and share my social media posts. You guys are awesome :)

I know that growing a small handmade business is hard work, so I continue to promote others. However, two projects that I thought would only take a few minutes each day gradually began consuming large amounts of my time.

The first project was my second blog, Create Happy Crafts. My goal was to spend 10 minutes per day writing a brief post featuring another blogger's tutorial and another 5 minutes promoting the post on social media. The plan seemed reasonable enough, but my time estimates were remarkably low. The blog wasn't growing despite the fact that I was putting a lot of time and energy into it. With a heavy heart, I decided to call it quits.

The second project was my weekly link-up, Crafty Saturday Show and Sell, where artists and crafters can share handmade items from their online shops. Again, I thought this would only take a few minutes a week to set-up and promote. Again, my time estimate was low, so I adjusted the process and made the link-up an ongoing event instead of weekly. That way I can focus my time on better promoting a few of the shared items each week.

So what's ahead for The Chilly Dog? I'm already planning for new tutorials, new crafty topics and more featured artists in 2016. I am also in the process of re-evaluating the advertising options I use to monetize my blog so they better align with my content and are more valuable to my wonderful readers.

And finally, my guiding principle... 

I love to craft and learn new skills that I can incorporate into my creations. I take great pride in my work. Crafting often requires patience and attention to detail but with practice (and maybe some guidance and encouragement) everyone has the capacity to make crafting a relaxing and enjoyable part of their life.

The Chilly Dog is my place to share my crafting experiences, expertise and inspirations and I hope to guide, encourage and promote others in their creative endeavors. Create Happiness. Expect Excellence.

LOVE IT? SHARE IT. MAKE IT.

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The Chilly Dog: The Chilly Dog - 2015 Highlights
The Chilly Dog - 2015 Highlights
The Chilly Dog's Year in Review
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